Costa Book Awards 2014

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

The category shortlists were announced on 19 November and the individual category winners will be announced on 5 January: they each won £5,000. The overall winner (who will receive £30,000) was announced on 27 January 2015.


OVERALL WINNER

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

5star.jpg

When I saw Helen Macdonald speak at a nature conference, she recounted a conversation with a Samuel Johnson Prize judge. S/he had remarked that Macdonald's was three books in one: a memoir of grief after her father's unexpected death, a biography of T. H. White, and an account of falconry experiments with Mabel the goshawk. Macdonald quipped that the description made her book sound like washing powder, but it's accurate nonetheless, and explains why the book won the Samuel Johnson Prize (the first memoir to do so) and is shortlisted for the Costa Biography award. Full review...

Novel Award

Winner

How to be Both by Ali Smith

4.5star.jpg

There's something which you need to know about this book: if you decide to read it, the book you read might not be the same as the one which I've read and am about to review. There are, you see, two stories in each copy and half the books published will have the story of Francescho Del Cossa who worked in and around Ferrara in the fifteenth century, followed by the story of George - really Georgia - a teenager who lives with her father and younger brother in twentieth century Cambridge. The other books will have the stories in reverse order. The stories are the same, but the experiences of the readers will be quite different. Full review...

Other books on the shortlist

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

4.5star.jpg

Many generations of the Ghosh family live together in a single house in 1960's Calcutta, albeit a very big single house. Life may be materially comfortable but not easy. Jealousy, in-fighting, the struggle to keep the family business going (and, for the younger family members, the struggle to lead the life they'd like) causes more than the odd sleepless night. Son Supratik has succeeded in choosing a different path though. He's tired of the endless consumption and acquisition and leaves home to follow his Marxist beliefs, exchanging family living for discomfort and danger. Full review...

House of Ashes by Monique Roffey

4star.jpg

There had been unrest in the Caribbean City of Silk in Sans Amen for some time with people growing increasingly belligerent about the perceived corruption of the government. Then the day came when The Leader called the Brothers together and told them that they were going to make history: they would take over the House of Power and the television studios and reclaim what was rightfully theirs. Part of this 'revolution' is Ashes, a quiet, bookish young man who seems to feel most guilty about the lie he told his wife - that he'd be back home for dinner - when he left the house. He'd been swayed by The Leader's rhetoric and finds himself a part of the rag-tag band of ill-trained but probably over-armed young men and teens who invade the House of Power. It would not go as they expected. Full review...

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

4star.jpg

Ireland - the late 1960's. After a short spell of illness, Maurice has died. Nora, his widow, is left alone with four children, and struggles to put her life back together. As time goes on, she begins work again, makes new friends, rediscovers her love for music, and watches the children grow. Full review...

First Novel Award

Winner

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

5star.jpg

Maud is a little forgetful as the rows of cooling cups of tea will attest. She also has a cupboard full of peaches for some reason but not to worry. She has a family who love her and rally round, a home help and her great friend Elizabeth. Come to think of it, Elizabeth seems to be missing and the notes that Maud writes herself each day keep reminding her of this. The problem is that no one will listen to her, let alone believe her. It also reminds Maud of something else; another disappearance a long, long time ago. Full review...

Other books on the shortlist

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

4star.jpg

The Bradley family are constantly busy as you might expect when there are four children but their most testing time comes on seven-year-old Jacob's birthday. His elder sister, Zippy and elder brother Alma have other things going on in their lives but his little sister isn't feeling well. Four-year-old Issy has retreated to bed and she's rather hoping that her mother will come and make her better, but Claire is trying to cope with Jacob's birthday party and it's quite a while before the family realise that Issy is very ill. She has meningitis and that night she dies in hospital. Full review...

Academy Street by Mary Costello

4.5star.jpg

It is 1944. Tess Lohan's mother has just died at age 40, of tuberculosis. Seven-year-old Tess is one of six children in a rural Irish family. They live at Easterfield, a centuries-old manor house. A teacher later tells Tess the history of her home: built in 1678, it was a famine hospital in the 1840s; there are numerous corpses buried on the land. He hints there may be many ghosts on the property, but the only one that haunts Tess is her dead mother. 'Memories and traces of her mother must linger all over the house – in rooms and halls and landings. The dent of her feet on a rug. On a cup, the mark of her hand.' Full review...

Chop Chop by Simon Wroe

4.5star.jpg

'Monocle' isn't his real name, but that's what the brigade at The Swan would call him once they knew him well enough to insult him. He has an English Literature degree, you see, and the chefs think that's what he would have worn. He'd no interest in cooking, but was two months behind on his rent and being the lowest-rung chef in a gastropub in Camden was the only job that he could get. His co-workers are deranged and borderline criminal whilst the head chef, Bob is a top-rank sadist constantly on the look out for material on which to practice. Monocle has little choice but to stay - given the situation between his parents, going home isn't really an option. Full review...

Biography Award

Winner

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

5star.jpg

When I saw Helen Macdonald speak at a nature conference, she recounted a conversation with a Samuel Johnson Prize judge. S/he had remarked that Macdonald's was three books in one: a memoir of grief after her father's unexpected death, a biography of T. H. White, and an account of falconry experiments with Mabel the goshawk. Macdonald quipped that the description made her book sound like washing powder, but it's accurate nonetheless, and explains why the book won the Samuel Johnson Prize (the first memoir to do so) and is shortlisted for the Costa Biography award. Full review...

Other books on the shortlist

Roy Jenkins: A Well-Rounded Life by John Campbell

5star.jpg

It must be rare indeed that a British political figure who never became Prime Minister is the subject of or deserves a biography comprising 750 pages of text. However, as John Campbell demonstrates in this volume, it is difficult to do justice to the life, times and career of Roy Jenkins in much less than that. Full review...

The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts

5star.jpg

'Something has happened. A piece of news. We have had a diagnosis that has the status of an event. The news makes a rupture with what went before.' With these plain, unsentimental words Coutts begins her devastating yet mysteriously gorgeous account of her husband Tom Lubbock's decline and death from a brain tumour. Shortlisted for the Costa Biography award and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, it was also a finalist for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Full review...

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

5star.jpg

We've all heard the phrase 'it's not brain surgery' but what is it really like to operate on someone's brain in the frightening knowledge that a small slip, a slight error can have the most devastating consequences for the patient, with death probably not being the worst? Henry Marsh is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley/St George's. If anyone knows what it's like then Henry Marsh is the man to tell you. Full review...

Poetry Award

Winner

My Family and Other Superheroes by Jonathan Edwards

Other books on the shortlist The Whole and Rain-domed Universe by Colette Bryce

A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde by Lavinia Greenlaw

The Cartographer Tries to May a Way to Zion by Kei Miller


Children's Book Award

Winner

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

5star.jpg

Nearly ten years after Squirrel, Panther, Bobs and Puss last saw the Psammead, the sand fairy returns. But the world is in a state of upheaval, and with the now grown-up children contributing to the war effort, it's left to The Lamb, a teenager, and new arrival 9-year-old Edie to look after their visitor and save him from prying eyes. In addition to the horrors of the war, there are revelations for the six siblings about their old companion's past - why has he returned, and is there a reason he can't grant wishes any longer? Full review...

Other books on the shortlist

Running Girl by Simon Mason

5star.jpg

When Garvie Smith's ex-girlfriend Chloe is murdered, Garvie determines to find out who killed her and why. You can understand this, right? But Inspector Singh doesn't: this is a serious murder enquiry and it's being obstructed by a sixteen-year-old boy who keeps putting himself into harm's way. Garvie's mother doesn't: exams are coming up and while her son has the highest IQ ever recorded by a boy at Marsh Academy, he also has the lowest results. But, even though Inspector Singh threatens charges of obstructing the police and Mrs Smith threatens a move to Barbados, Garvie just can't let it go... Full review...

Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo

5star.jpg

It's May, 1915. World War I is underway and the Scillionians have already seen losses. Like the rest of Britain, they are beginning to realise that this war won't be over any time soon.

When Alfie and his father are out fishing one day, they hear a child's cries. On one of the archipelago's uninhabited islands, they find a half-starved little girl, abandoned and in a terrible state. She can only speak one word: Lucy. Who is this foundling? Is she a ghost? A mermaid? Or, more worryingly, could she be a German spy? The name Wilhelm is on the label of her blanket, after all. And why does she gaze at the moon with such longing in her eyes? Full review...

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

5star.jpg

If anyone ever suggests to you that science and art (or philosophy) don't go together, give them this book! The Ghosts of Heaven presents four fabulous stories from different time frames linked by the natural constant of the spiral. The introduction provides a lyrical explanation of the birth of the universe, the Solar System and us and of the dimensional spiral we call the helix. It also explains that we can read the stories in any of the twenty-four possible orders we please. Full review...

Comments

Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.